Easy-to-use tools to help women with breast self-exams, empowering events nationwide, and a partnership with one of the biggest fashion houses in the world? Mary Ann Wasil and her organization, the Get In Touch Foundation, are doing it all! We were lucky enough to get to talk to Wasil about her work and the amazing progress the GIT team has made over the past several years.
What’s the Get in Touch Foundation, and what inspired you to start it?
Mary Ann Wasil: The Get In Touch Foundation is a breast health organization whose cornerstone mission is our free Get In Touch Girls’ Program & Daisy Wheels, a free breast health educational initiative for girls in grades 5-12.
I started the Get In Touch Foundation after being diagnosed with breast cancer in 2004 at the age of 39. I had no family history of breast cancer. I knew that this was not true for my daughters – I was their family history of breast cancer. I began the conversation with them about breast health and the importance of “getting in touch” with their bodies when I realized what a mistake it was to wait until breast cancer was in the picture before we had these conversations with our children.
I taught them how to do a breast self-exam and encouraged them to become familiar with their bodies. And then I realized this was something that all of our daughters, not just the ones that call me “Mom” would benefit from. Our free Get In Touch Girls’ Program & Daisy Wheel teaches girls grades 5-12 the importance of and how to do a breast self-exam – for life!
We launched our free program on September 1, 2009 and School Nurses in 23 states signed up in the first 24 hours! Daisy Wheels have rolled into the hands of 500,000 girls in all 50 states and 27 countries, and our Daisy Wheel app, available for free on the iTunes Store, has been downloaded by girls in 80 countries since launching in June 2011.
We want girls to know their bodies better than their mothers did and better than their grandmothers would ever approve of!
You mentioned that October is a busy month because it’s Breast Health Awareness month! What is Get in Touch doing to spread awareness?
MAW: Because Get In Touch is a Breast HEALTH Organization, we prefer to refer to October as Breast HEALTH Awareness Month (instead of Breast CANCER Awareness Month) so thank you, HelloFlo, for doing the same!
The third Friday in October is International “GIT Your Pink On!” Day, which means that we encourage schools and even businesses and individuals around the world to wear pink on that day and donate one dollar to Get In Touch.
Because the Daisy Wheels are free to schools, even the smallest donation makes a big difference and helps us continue our mission to provide free breast health education to girls around the globe.
We’ll be busy on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram during October, too, reminding girls – and guys! – to do their BSE, and we’re super-psyched about the re-launch of our updated Daisy Wheel app next month!
We think pink should be a reminder to “Get In Touch” and be breast healthy, so be sure to “GIT Your Pink On!”
Even more exciting, you’ve landed a partnership with GUESS Watches! Can you tell us a little bit more about what that entails and how you got that going?
MAW: We are incredibly excited about our brand new philanthropic partnership with GUESS Watches because the proceeds from their super successful global Sparkling Pink Campaign will now benefit The Get In Touch Foundation! Each sale of this gorgeous Special Edition sporty-chic watch will help us continue our mission of free breast health education for girls all over the globe! We like to say it’s #timetoGIT!
What advice do you have for other women hoping to start a business, social enterprise, or any other sort of organization?
MAW: This is a great question, one I get asked quite often! I am sure that HelloFlo’s fabulous founder Naama Bloom would agree with me on this – be sure to surround yourself with smart and talented people, folks who are strong where you are weak.
Do a regular “SWOT” analysis…taking an honest look at your “strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats” can help you find the right path to move your business, your nonprofit, or even your life forward in a meaningful, impactful and successful way.
Oh, and don’t forget to choose joy – life can be hard, so move toward joy as often as possible! (Sometimes that means eating ice cream for breakfast!)